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Think Like a Talmudic Scholar

The Torah commands us to keep Shabbat, but what if you're a doctor called to perform emergency surgery? We are commanded to honor our parents, but what if they forbid us from studying the Torah? These are the kind of scenarios that Talmudic rabbis have pondered for centuries.


This user-friendly lesson plan is designed to immerse your middle school students in the philosophical exploration of Jewish laws by taking on the roles of Talmudic rabbis. They'll engage in lively discussions and debates around conflicting Jewish laws using real-life scenarios.


This educational lesson plan includes informative guides designed to assist your students in gaining a thorough understanding of two significant religious texts in Jewish tradition: the Torah and the Talmud. While your students may be familiar with these texts, these helpful guides provide a comprehensive overview to enhance their knowledge.


The guiding worksheets will enable your students to practice thinking like Talmudic scholars as they compare their country's legal system with Jewish law.



Guide to the Torah

Guide to the Talmud

Comparative Diagram

Scenario Sheet

Guide for Exploring Tzedakah

Worksheet for Thought-Provoking Questions

8 Activity Cards featuring scenarios representing Maimonides's Ladder of Tzedakah 

Suggested answers


Unit 1: The Torah and The Talmud

Students will delve into the contents of the Torah and the Talmud, embracing the mindset of Talmudic scholars as they participate in open discussions and debates. They'll grapple with ethical dilemmas, from the scenario of a doctor called to work on Shabbat to a family making a tough decision about consuming non-kosher food.


Unit 2: Maimonides' Ladder of Tzedakah

Students will explore the concept of hierarchical giving and anonymous charity through a thought-provoking activity. They will arrange Maimonides' Ladder of Tzedakah in a manner that reflects their interpretation of the highest moral values. This resource aims to deepen students' comprehension of Jewish texts and values, while nurturing critical thinking and encouraging philosophical discussions.

Think Like a Talmudic Scholar

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